Junk boats on Halong Bay, in Vietnam.

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I’m on a boat! Boat trips not to miss in Asia

Published June 8th, 2016

Azure seas. Sunshine. Glistening beaches errrywhere. Asia is full of gobsmacking waterfront eye candy. But don't just sit there and lap it up. Boat rides go hand in hand with Asia like filters and selfies on Snapchat. Jump on a long tail boat, a junk boat, a ferry and so many other types of floaties to properly explore the watery vistas on Asia's horizons. Don't miss these 100% must-do boat trips!

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Take in Thailand’s star

The star of Thailand for many a fresh-faced backpacker? The Phi Phi Islands, of course! Pinball your way around this picture-perfect haven of sun-drenched islands (did you know this is where they filmed The Beach with lovely Leo?). There’s Phi Phi Lay, Loh Sama, Tonsai Bay, Phi Phi Don and Bamboo Island to name a few stops. Why? Because #paradise.



Me cruise Mekong

A highlight of Vietnam no matter your age is without doubt cruising the Mekong River. Let the world pass by peacefully on this iconic voyage immortalised in song, book and film. Stop to chat to locals at a small village and let the camera roll max out at once.

Oh hai, James Bond

Thailand isn’t complete until you’ve set sail for Koh Tapu, aka James Bond Island, for a day. Yep, this is where scenes from the 1974 film “The Man with the Golden Gun” were filmed. Swim, sunbathe and maybe even canoe through nearby sea caves for a tad more action. Cya holiday stresses, hello star-studded beauty.

Halong Bay by the junk load

The only way to do Halong Bay? In a junk boat. With those giant orange sails wavering in the wind, sweep through the jade waterways of this insta-worthy hotspot – in and out and around those iconic limestone karsts so dramatically jutting out of the water. There really is nothing like it. You can even jump off for a swim and a kayak in this ultimate bucket list destie. Booyeah!


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Junk boats on Halong Bay, Vietnam.
Get your bunk boat on in Halong Bay.


Paddle, paddle as fast as you can

Okay, so it’s not technically a REAL boat. But same, same (kind of). In Vang Vieng in charming Laos, one of the best things to do is kayak the Nam Song River. Even better? Rafting down the rapids that swell up in wet season. You may have to paddle this ‘boat’ ride yourself, but this is where the #adventuretimes are at!

Long tail, short ride

Koh Phangan may be famous for its Full Moon parties, but once the hangover kicks in all you’ll be wanting is a secluded bay to lay that head down on clear sands. There are plenty of those to be found! A traditional Thai long tail boat will get you there in a jiffy and offer plenty of easy scenery on the eyes along the way.




Need more Asia inspiration?

The other (quieter) Halong Bay

Perfect Palawan, the 'world's most beautiful island'

Chasing chill in Koh Samui


Boat, dive, turtle, yas!

A boat ride that’s more than just a ride. Cruise to the depths of Koh Tao (Turtle Island) and dive right in. Scuba diving at this Thailand beauty is on par with tackling Mount Everest in the climbing world. Keep the FOMO at bay and just do it! You can even get your diving certificate here – the best kind of souvenir, yeah? You know it.


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Scuba diving at Turtle Island in Thailand.
Ride to Turtle Island & dive right in!


Lotsa love for Malacca

Don’t just wander Malacca. Cruise it! Get a front row seat to this Malaysian city where Portuguese, Thai and Chinese influences meet from where it looks best – from the water. Glide past historic buildings, old warehouses, charming churches, interesting mangroves and cute-as-anything villages while you rest those weary traveller feet!

Shop afloat with a Vinh Long stop

Don’t just shop – shop afloat. Bet you’ve never done that one before! Cai Be is famous for its floating markets so jump on board and join the fun. Test out those haggling skillz on water or simply ogle at the colour and buzz with a side of gentle swaying. It’s a whole new world. Then continue along the maze of canals to Vinh Long for a glimpse at local life beyond.


 

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Zoom, zoom and the Big 3

What’s the big 3, you say? Snorkelling, swimming and kayaking in Thailand’s Anhthong National Marine Park. It’s ah-mazing, yas it is! But with 40 islands in this slice of paradise, you’ve got to get there first. Well that’s easy! Zoom over from be-a-utiful Koh Samui for an unforgettable boat ride where the journey IS as good as the destination. Guaranteed. 

City sights, water side

In Bangkok, one of the best ways to take in the city skyline is bobbing up and down the Chao Phraya River on the local ferry (cheap too!). Here you’ll finally escape the crowds and traffic (phew!). But what will you see? All the major landmarks including plenty of fascinating riverside temples like the Buddhist temple Wat Pho. At night, expect city sparkles galore. Nawwwww...


 

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Surprise, Surprise Cave

A special spot that deserves a special cruise of its own to get there, in the middle of Halong Bay lurks Surprise Cave – hands down THE most magical cave in all of the bay. Step off and continue on foot, but don’t be fooled by the entrance. It may look small, but inside, it’s huge enough to have earnt a nickname like “the Cave of Unfathomable Depth”. Yerrrp! Snap pics of epic stalactites galore. Expect ‘wowsers’, ‘oooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ en masse.


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Tijana Jaksic

The one thing Tijana always knew she wanted to do was travel to experience other cultures around the globe. She has danced with locals in the streets of Cuba, bartered for too many scarves in the markets of India, and traversed the wonders of Europe from the castles of Edinburgh to the mosques of Istanbul. Writing about this incredible world only ever makes her list grow longer, and one day, she hopes she'll even make it to Antarctica.